Over 60% of parents make comments about their teen’s weight, new UConn study shows
Over 60% of parents make comments about their teenager's weight, according to a new study by the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Health.
The study also revealed that most of the comments were neither critical or negative remarks, according to adolescents surveyed.
Using a national online panel, researchers surveyed 2,032 adolescents and 1,936 parents to learn about the types of positive and negative comments that parents make about their teen’s weight, how teens perceive these comments, and whether these communication patterns vary across sex, race/ethnicity, and weight status.
Around 61% of parents reported making comments to their child about their weight, with 16% of parents expressing these comments often.
About a third of teens said that their fathers (31%) and mothers (39%) commented that their health is more important than their weight.
Positive weight comments from parents were more frequent than negative comments, but both were commonly reported by mothers, fathers, and adolescents across sex, race/ethnicity, and weight status.
Compared to girls, boys reported more frequent weight comments from mothers and fathers.
Hispanic and Latinx parents and adolescents reported talking about weight more often compared to white and Black/African American parents and adolescents.
The study found that weight comments from parents occurred most often for adolescents with higher weight and adolescents actively trying to manage their weight.
Parent-adolescent weight conversations occurred both in-person and through texting, and across daily life situations like grocery shopping, shopping for clothes, and when talking about healthy lifestyle behaviors.
Most adolescents surveyed reported that their parents make body-positive remarks to them, such as communicating the importance of body acceptance and treating people of all
body sizes with respect.
Yet despite positive parental messages, the study revealed that many adolescents said they never want their mother (44%) or father (63%) to talk to them about their weight.